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Loony 911 Theories, When Will They Ever End?

loony 911 theoriesStudents of the historical record are ever mindful that for every significant catastrophe there typically will be at least one, and more often several bizarre conspiracy theories that spring up around it. “The CIA killed Bob Marley“, “The Pope had John Lennon whacked”, “Hitler was half space alien,” etc. The larger the event, the more ridiculous and numerous are the conspiracy rantings which circulate in relation to it.

So it’s not surprising at all that the events of September 11th, 2001 have precipitated their fair share of these ludicrous fairy tales. And as always, there is – sadly – a small but gullible percentage of the population eager to lap up these tall tales, regardless of facts or rational analysis.

wingnut  batshit loony 911 theoriesBut alas, the incessant 9/11 conspiracy theory bleating is slowly and thankfully grinding to a halt. Other than the fundamental incoherence of their loony theories, the downfall of the “9/11 denier” juggernaut was good old-fashioned skepticism at its best, the kind that conjures visions of James Randi challenging psychics and faith healers on their home turfs and winning.

Staking their fortunes almost solely on Internet-based content may have been the 9/11 deniers’ biggest mistake — the Internet is un-edited, without fact-checkers or minimum publishing standards of any kind — also became a perfect place for a rapid-response system of blogs and forums to fight back. Drawing on the freely available technical information from the NIST, FEMA, and academic journals which most colleges let their students access for free.

It is with the above observations in mind we provide this insightful video from the Corbett Report. Enjoy and Wake Up, America!  Stop indulging in loony wingnut batsh*t conspiracy theories.  Case closed!

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Finally, Net Neutrality is Within Sight

net 1Today, we celebrated. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has signaled that the Commission is finally making real progress on net neutrality. But the fight isn’t over by a long shot.

Proponents of net neutrality claim that big telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services. Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms. Prominent supporters of net neutrality include Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, and Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web.

See also: Secret Multi-Billion Dollar Wireless Scam, Reed Hundt’s True Legacy

Until recently “net neutrality” was little more than a buzzword to most Americans, an arcane concept within an equally arcane sector of telecommunications law. But fierce resistance to a plan proposed last spring by Chairman Wheeler that Internet advocates said would have undermined net neutrality — the concept that all data on the Net must be treated equally by Internet service providers (ISPs) — has pushed this once obscure idea into the DC limelight.

Joshua Kopstein at Al Jazeera America

“The plan Wheeler announced last May would have permitted ISPs such as Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner to give faster, priority access to sites and services able to pay for it as long as those deals were deemed commercially reasonable. But in a surprising about-face, he is now proposing rules that ban that practice by treating wired and wireless broadband Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — much like the telephone system.”

But Wheeler has changed his tune for the better –

“The Internet must be fast, fair and open. That is the message I’ve heard from consumers and innovators across this nation,” Wheeler wrote today in an article for Wired. “That is the principle that has enabled the Internet to become an unprecedented platform for innovation and human expression … The proposal I present to the commission will ensure the Internet remains open, now and in the future, for all Americans.”

This sudden turnabout of recent months has shocked the big telecoms and even net neutrality advocates, who until recently had relatively few powerful allies in their corner. Read more

True Government Transparency, is Bitcoin the Answer?

Bitcoin, that digital ‘crypto’ currency that we have blogged about several times over the years, by default provides an automated public ledger – a techno-currency that provides trading value instantaneously without the added ‘friction’ and third-party (banking) profiteering.   Bitcoin is impossible to counterfeit and promises many amazingly apparent uses, including government openness and transparency.

In principle, such crypto-currency could finally bring transparency to governments.

Bitcoin transactions are ‘anonymous’ because senders and receivers are represented by long sequences of code (Bitcoin wallet addresses) in lieu of personal data, but  its public ledger logs every single transaction to provide the ultimate transparency.

“[But] don’t confuse anonymity with privacy,” writes Eric Blair at Activist Post. “Anonymity means ‘we know what you’re doing but we don’t know who you are’, while privacy means ‘we know who you are but we don’t know what you’re doing’. The U.S. government seems to be increasingly outlawing both anonymity and privacy for citizens while it simultaneously becomes more secretive. This path is truly the antithesis of a free society.  Yet, this lack of transparency for government and privacy for average citizens can be reversed if the government embraced bitcoin technology.”

Adds Blair: “For example, imagine paying at the gas pump and the funds are immediately dispersed to the proper accounts; to the gas station’s wallet, $.20 per gallon to the federal government roads’ wallet, and about $.30 per gallon to your state’s road wallet (exact fuel taxes here). Not only is this far more efficient than current systems, but let’s follow this through a bit more. Now imagine that the government’s wallets are public where anyone can view income and expenditures in real time.”

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Welcome to the Matrix …

… and the law enforcement of “pre-crime” as fictionalized in the flick Minority Report.  Are we all under surveillance in the “matrix?”  

Image1The US army is developing methods to covertly identify and track people who plan to do ‘something bad’. Hidden sensors will be used to detect AI’s version of ‘adversarial intent’ by reading and cataloguing our emotions and health.

A report called ‘Remote Detection of Covert Tactical Adversarial Intent of Individuals in Asymmetric Operations’ (PDF) was authored by the US Army Research Laboratory in 2010; it details the requirements of researchers wishing to gain funding from the US Federal Government by developing techniques to hone in on individuals in crowds, to detect antagonistic attitudes among the “clutter” of innocents.

The prime directive to protect national security, counter ‘insurgency’, and generally ‘keep the peace’, however, means the technology that is developed will spread beyond airports and be used for wider civilian applications, such as “crowd control and in antidrug, anticrime, and immigration enforcement.” In fact, applications in the civilian economy are said to be plentiful, and also include “border security, and ensuring the security of government and private personnel and property”.

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Cloud Computing Could Save The Economy

Source: Cloud9 Real Time

Cloud computing is growing rapidly. While still in its infantcy, the cloud sector of tech has experienced more than just explosive job growth in the past 36 months.

The latest data demonstrates that the cloud computing arena is establishing a new economic paradigm for many industries and businesses, generating opportunity and job growth well beyond the cloud service companies fueling the expansion.

In the next five years, cloud computing has the potential to add 4720,000 new jobs and $100 billion to the global economy, according according to a study, “Job Growth in the Forecast: How Cloud Computing is Generating New Business Opportunities and Fueling Job Growth in the United States,” by the Sand Hill Group and SAP.

Read SAP report (PDF) HERE

See also – Cloud Computing New Jobs Creation by 2015

The study says three industry megatrends are propelling the growth of cloud services and employment: the boom in mobile computing devices such as smartphones and tablets; the “social” trend in online services; and the growth of “Big Data” flows that require more data management services.

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Cloud Computing’s Increasing Value

Cloud Computing CatalystA recent study from IDG Enterprise conducted a study among 1,600 IT and business leaders. It revealed that majority of these companies have spent more than a third of their IT budget to Cloud Computing. Further, almost two thirds of the respondents said they will continue to increase their spending in Cloud Computing in the next couple of years.

 – See also – ‘Together in the Cloud’ being released

They believe their investments now will eventually pay off either by providing the company a more efficient work system or by replacing other hardware and software recurring costs.

cloud-computing-futureThere is an onslaught of literature on the potential of Cloud Computing. It is also this very rich literature that makes it confusing for people to determine which is reliable and which is a baseless claim.

Robert J. Chandler, president of San Diego-based Cloud9 Real Time and author of the newly released ‘Together in the Cloud’ observes:

“I see the disconnect that business owners and accounting professionals experience trying to understand how the cloud will work for them. The advancements that this industry has made in recent years are astounding, and I truly believe that education is the first step to success in the cloud.”

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What Was Facebook Thinking?

Just in case you haven’t heard: Facebook is paying $1 billion to acquire photo sharing app darling, Instagram.  Huh?  How could Zuckerberg possibly think it’s worth anywhere near that much?  All Things Digital reported that assorted VCs assessed Instagram at $500 million before funding it with $50 million in venture capital.

facebook-instagram-acquisition“If you find it odd that in one room Instagram was negotiating a billion dollar sale, while in another closing a funding deal, you’re not alone,” writes Ron Miller at Fierce Content.

But it’s not half as odd as Facebook paying twice as much for Instagram as the companies providing that funding think it’s worth.  Was somebody else bidding against Facebook?

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Update on Bitcoin: The Rise & Fall

Bitcoin, the virtual peer-to-peer currency that was launched in 2009 (see CAT blog June: Barter P2P Currency Gains Traction), had a meteoric rise in April-June of this year—but after a hacking attack on the premier bitcoin exchange, the currency plummeted, then rose again. Today it traded at $2.40, down from a peak of $30, but still way up from the pennies it priced at 18 months ago.

Bitcoin Price History

In a recent WIRED article Benjamin Wallace reports that –

In the public’s imagination, overnight the bitcoin went from being the currency of tomorrow to a dystopian joke. The Electronic Frontier Foundation quietly stopped accepting bitcoin donations. Two Irish scholars specializing in network analysis demonstrated that bitcoin wasn’t nearly as anonymous as many had assumed: They were able to identify the handles of a number of people who had donated bitcoins to Wikileaks. (The organization announced in June 2011 that it was accepting such donations.) Nontechnical newcomers to the currency, expecting it to be easy to use, were disappointed to find that an extraordinary amount of effort was required to obtain, hold, and spend bitcoins. For a time, one of the easier ways to buy them was to first use Paypal to buy Linden dollars, the virtual currency in Second Life, then trade them within that make-believe universe for bitcoins. As the tone of media coverage shifted from gee-whiz to skeptical, attention that had once been thrilling became a source of resentment.

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Cloud Accounting & QuickBooks Alternatives Growing Fast

Editor’s Notes: Our designated cloud accounting technology provider Cloud9 Real Time presented at Sleeter – Source: Catalyst Enterprise Solutions 

QuickBooks alternatives and cloud-based accounting were the main themes of Doug Sleeter’s opening keynote address at the Sleeter Group annual conference in Las Vegas recently. Sleeter stressed how the profession is clearly moving in new directions and accountants need to think about changing how they work, writes Seth Fineberg.

Doug Sleeter

Doug Sleeter

Sleeter spoke to an estimated audience of over 700 at his 2011 Accounting Solutions Conference in Las Vegas.

“We found that most attendees have come here not just to learn about QuickBooks,” said Sleeter. “There are paradigm shifts all over the accounting technology world. The future is here, and it’s all about zero data entry and about how you work. A big feature of this conference is about turning the corner. Just providing tax returns and financials is not enough. We are here to help guide clients and use the numbers to help them make better decisions.”

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Secret Multi-Billion Dollar Wireless Scam
Reed Hundt’s True Legacy

Last month we politely called it a “Great Airwaves Giveaway” – how major telecoms had ripped off the system by gaming billions in airwave licenses without proper compensation, with a little help from the FCC dating all the way back to the early 90s FCC of then Chairman Reed Hundt.

The Secret $8 Billion Wireless Scam

Well, it gets worse, so now the gloves are off: AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon gamed the regulatory system and were able to garner over $8 billion worth of discounted spectrum by posing as “very small businesses.” It was a massive rip-off of wireless spectrum that blocked legitimate small competitors from offering services, as they were “out-bid” by deep-pocketed impostors.

Is this the legacy that past FCC Chairman Reed Hundt is so proud of? (see Reed Hundt’s latest and The Great Airwaves Robbery)

On May 11, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing astutely titled, “The AT&T/T-Mobile Merger: Is Humpty Dumpty Being Put Back Together Again?”

At the hearing, Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, raised a fundamental challenge: “At present, four companies control nearly 90 percent of the national wireless market. The proposed acquisition would further consolidate an already concentrated market for wireless communication.”

SOURCE:  David Rosen and Bruce Kushnick | AlterNet

The four companies that control the market (and their estimated market share) are: AT&T (26.8%), Verizon (26.0%), Sprint (22.9%) and T-Mobile (11.0%). With the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, AT&T (44.0%) and Verizon (30.5%) will control nearly three-fourths of the market; Sprint’s share will increase to 16 percent; and the rest of the providers will drop to 6.3 percent.

If history is our guide, the FCC will approve the merger and come up with loosey-goosey voluntary commitments. And Verizon will most likely seek to acquire Sprint. This will return the U.S. to a wireless duopoly.

In 1984, when AT&T was broken up, only two wireless licenses were allowed per market. The local Bell Operating phone companies received one of the licenses for their entire territories and the second license was put up for bid.

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Decentralized Barter Currency Gaining Traction

BitCoin Digital Currency

In 2006 Douglas Rushkoff, when asked The Edge Question, “What is the most dangerous idea?,” replied, “Open source currency, of course.”

Well now a new P2P digital currency, called Bitcoin, may provide the ideal medium to engage in commerce outside the official economy and  — it’s decentralized, anonymous, and its supply is moderated by a mathematical formula to automatically deflate it over time. A truly dangerous idea.

Eric Blair at Activist Post writes: “The masses are beginning to understand that the greatest threat to human freedom is the international banking cartel and their debt-based monetary system. Together with governments, they squash any manifestation of a free marketplace and personal freedom. Between runaway money printing, corporate cartel control, subsidies and taxes, and regulations and fees; the free market is nothing more than an ideology — for now.”

It would seem that the precise remedy to such a system would be decentralization of currency and banking, or functioning in an underground economy outside the system. There may be hope for accomplishing both with the new crypto-currency that is beginning to gain recognition, the Bitcoin. Can this decentralized barter currency free humanity from the grip of the slave masters and provide for a truly free-market economy?

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These Start-Up Guys Are A Riot!

This was just too funny and, dare we say, REAL not to post!  They so remind me of several meetings we have attended with Silicon Valley types.  Enjoy!

Next-Generation WordPress Websites Do It All

Created primarily-initially for bloggers, one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that WordPress is only for blogs. With its state-of-the-art characteristics however, WordPress has now become an excellent open-source web publishing platform and content management system which boasts impressive web standards, aesthetics, flexibility and great usability among its users.

Blogging platforms tend to have less functionality than the more robust non-blog Content Management Systems, but over the years WordPress has been extensively developed towards increasing sophistication. And since WordPress is free and released under GPL (General Public License), any user is allowed to modify it to meet virtually any purpose. Thus, when properly modified its one of the best content management systems available for WEBSITES.

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